Welcome to History Class (or perhaps Her-story class)… from the other sister!

My sister teaches middle school social studies. Mostly American History. Just between us, she doesn’t sound too sure that it works the same virtually, but she’s doing her part!

The two million year old wise woman who was very busy knitting my dreams together last night seems to be quite comfortable with the whole virtual learning thing. We’ve been doing a lot of that lately! The multitude of emails waiting for me this morning proved that.

You’re about to miss Black Friday at __________________! Fill in the purveyor of whatever of your choice. About 17 of them should give you a start. And one of them was mine!

Now double those emails in number and you’ve got a good grasp on the political stack for the day. Many, many of them things I already handled yesterday! (I live in Georgia!)

Then the heart tuggers. Save the bees. Send food to… Somebody stole my car out of my driveway. Our dog is lost. And the one that never fails to blow my mind: Urgent! Urgent! Four hours ago there was a coyote near the traffic light at…

Meanwhile, my paint sisters are immersed in a conversation about curation. Curating museum shows. (Really!) Curating images. Curating consciousness. That last one is my favorite. My consciousness and – as odd as it sounds – the world’s consciousness. (Well, helping!)

If we get right down to it, curating my consciousness is a better description of what the two million year old wise woman was up to while I was dreaming.

She had a LOT of things to work with! And I spent some time before I “woke” in an odd realm where I was both conscious of the curating going on and sleeping.

Eventually, the outer world summoned me. A chilly house. A very large dog more than suggesting that it was time to go out, partially because he’s realized it’s even chillier out there than it was in here and his “people” are from Newfoundland.

Once I had opened the door, fixed tea, and weeded the email, I could feel bits of a quote rattling around in my head. After a minute or two, I got the quote, itself. Finding the source took a bit of button pushing. And there it was.

The words of author, Kathleen McGowan, placed in the mouth of a main character teaching History to adult college students.

History is not what happened, but what is written down.

Let that sink in for a minute. Think with me, please, about all the things happening in this world right now. And about all the voices clammoring to decide what gets written down.

I mean, think about it! Long, long ago, when the vast majority of literate humans were wealthy men, it was fairly easy to control what got written down. And who got access to it.

Our world is different. You and I have the technology to participate in what gets written down. And, as the Mystic Legend painting coming to life on my easel would remind us, what images get brought to form. (Believe me, they matter at least as much!)

So, in this moment, with my curator’s hat on, I can’t help but ask… What are you bringing to view? What are you writing down? What are you curating in your consciousness?

We are the artists, the authors, the curators of the moment. And those who will come after are counting on us!

ps… Voting is curating, too!

When the Mystic makes gravy…

Okay, this may turn out to be one of those “you had to be there” kind of posts, but then again, maybe not!

Fortunately, food is often art at our house. And art is food for the soul. Taken together, my week kinda makes sense after all.

My third Legend painting, known around here as The Legendary Mystic, is holding court in the studio, acting as though she’s in charge. Which, in a way, she is.

We would be, if we believed in such things, behind. Instead, she’s making space for what my soul needs to set free. Mostly, prayer dots…

  • For my sister’s not quite 8 week old grandson, struggling to heal from much needed heart surgery.
  • For a dear family friend admitted to the hospital.
  • For all of us who are missing those we love in order to help the world to heal in the midst of the pandemic, and those we lost because of it.
  • For political sanity. And for so many other people and situations.
  • Also for two workshops creating mental Braxton-Hicks contractions in my heart. Or, perhaps, expansions! (Early news, next week!)

All the while, the turkey, straight from my friends at Carlton Farms, is thawing gently in the fridge. I made 2 batches of bird broth Monday. Tonight, we’ll cook the wild rice for the mandatory batch of what Bill refers to as Marry Me Dressing!

And, here, as promised, my very own gluten free, paleo, great place to hide vegetables recipe for positively stunning gravy.

Turkey Gravy

Making and stirring gravy was a huge honor in my family. If you have budding foodie kids around who know something about stove safety, let them help stir! This is easy, fabulous, and healthier than the old fashioned kind. Thanks to Jamie Oliver for the inspiration. I think Daddy and Granny would be proud.

Note: If you prefer very smooth gravy, you’ll need an immersion blender.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, you’re roasting your turkey on a bed of onions, carrots, and celery, tossed in good olive oil and S&P.

About 1/2 hour before you’ve planned for your turkey to be done roasting, place into large saucepan and heat gently: 2 qt. excellent quality Super Chicken Stock (or Bird Broth). If you have to purchase stock, select the kind in the shelf stable “boxes” instead of canned. Organic is best. No salt added is a good choice.

When turkey is done, tip all juices from cavity back into roasting pan and remove your glorious bird to a platter or large cutting board with grooves to catch more juice. If you dry brined your turkey, it will be juicier than with other cooking methods.

Place roasting pan on stovetop over 2 burners set on medium to medium-high heat. Stir roasted veg around in juice until nicely browned. Remove celery, as well as any stray bay leaves or herb stems, and discard. Mash remaining veg with hand potato masher in roasting pan for rustic gravy and remove any remaining big chunks with slotted spoon. For smoother gravy, turn burners off for a few minutes. Remove veg to a deep stainless or glass bowl and puree with immersion blender. Strain gravy through fine mesh sieve and return to pan, with burners set again on medium to medium-high heat.

Deglaze pan with about 1/2 c. white wine, probably whatever you’re serving with dinner or a good, smooth Chardonnay.

Scrape up stuck good stuff from bottom of pan. Adjust heat as needed so that gravy bubbles gently but does not boil. Begin to add warmed stock, about 1 c. at a time, mixing well. Gravy should grow in volume, but not thin out too much. Continue adding stock, stirring, and simmering. Add additional turkey juices from carving.

Lower heat and continue to stir frequently until ready to transfer to serving vessel. The gravy texture will be more like sauce than the old kind, full of flour. Taste. Adjust seasonings as needed but don’t be surprised if it’s already perfect!

This makes quite a bit of gravy and it freezes really well for fast winter dinners!

Boardman, 91 ff.

Bill and Phoebe and Luther and I wish you and yours peace and strength for the future.

ps… If, like me, you believe that art will help to save the world, I’d be honored if you checked out my Etsy store where Black Friday is already in progress! Oh, and you can get full copies of WE GATHER TOGETHER, with all the recipes there, too!

pps… Also, Fine Art America is well stocked with “lifestyle” goodies like puzzles and yoga mats and tote bags, oh, my!

ppps… If you have fond memories of trips to the mall, back in the old days, try Sue’s Shop! The Mystic is grateful!

A day of mixed blessings…

Today – in this case, Saturday – is a bit of an emotional quilt. Scraps of this and that, held together with red thread.

There’s a 7-hour livestream painting adventure on my calendar. It has to do with physics and healing and art. I suspect it also has to do with the virtual web of women, literally around the world, joining in healing energy.

But before that, there’s the last of 6 lessons in Turning Your Wisdom Into (Online) Workshops, led by the very wise Sam Bennett and her amazing team. Details to follow…

But before that, I sold a painting, a small menorah. The back of it is inscribed, Let there be light! I’m counting on that. And happy that my bit of work has found its forever home.

But before that, 89 years ago, my dad was born. According to the family legend, he was the last of Elsie’s six babies, and the first one she actually got to name! It had something to do with Elsie’s mother-in-law, known as MOTHER Boardman.

Somewhere, in the next world, I’ll bet my dad and all the gang are laughing about turkey plucking and, some of them at least, planning to go tip over an out house for old time’s sake.

In their honor… my version of what to do with the bird.

Of course, you’ll need your bird thawed, even if you skipped the dry brining process. (Note: It can take up to 3 days to thaw an 18-20 pound turkey in the fridge!) For Gorgeous Juicy Turkey, you’ll want to plan on roughly 2 hours for roasting and 1/2 hour for resting. See * below for additional info on timing according to turkey size!

A small amount of math is inevitable.

Remove your lovely bird from the fridge about 4 hours before you’re planning to serve your fabulous dinner. Allow it to sit out and come to cool room temp…about an hour. Put it somewhere the dogs really can’t reach it!

Preheat oven to 525 degrees F. 

Pour out any juices from the inside of the turkey and the bottom of the pan and discard. Pat the bird gently dry, inside and out, trying not to disturb any remaining brine mixture on the skin.

If you brined, no additional salt or pepper is needed!

(If you didn’t brine ahead of time, remove any innards, etc. now and generously season the inside of the turkey with good sea salt and freshly ground black or mixed peppercorns. )

Your marvelous dressing goes into a pan to bake. Trust me. (Sorry Granny!)

Fill the cavity with aromatics. Try a mix of your favorites… any combination of these will add to the cooking juices, keeping the turkey moist and making tasty gravy. (This part will take about 1/2 hour of our 4 hour timeline.)

  • Quartered onion, skin on.
  • A whole garlic bulb, cut in half.
  • A quartered, cored, firm organic apple.
  • 3-4 bay leaves, preferably fresh, crushed briefly to release oils.
  • A handful of fresh thyme sprigs. 
  • A fresh lemon, cut in half.
  • Rosemary and sage are good too, but may overtake other flavors. Tread lightly!
  • Any stems from fresh parsley you may have around.

After the cavity is filled, tie the wings and legs, pulling them close to the body with kitchen string so your bird will roast more evenly.

Then, scrub and roughly chop about:

  • 6 small carrots.
  • 3 – 4 onions.
  • 6 ribs of organic celery, including some leaves if desired.

Place chopped veg in your roasting pan, forming a “rack” for the turkey. Place trussed bird, breast side up, on the veg.

Put in 525 degree oven for 11 minutes. Reduce oven temp to 400 degrees and continue to roast. 

(Any yummy veggies you’re roasting for dinner will do really well at the same 400 F.)

Baste turkey every 20 minutes or so with good olive oil (or melted, unsalted butter), using a small brush.

* Alice Waters says to figure about 12 minutes per pound for a 15-pound, unstuffed turkey and fewer  minutes/pound for larger birds. If you’re roasting our mythical 18-20 pound bird, start checking temp about 1 hour 45 min. after you reduced the oven to 400 F. by inserting an instant read thermometer into the deepest part of the breast, making sure tip does not touch the bone. Check the plump part of the inner thigh the same way. As amazing as this sounds, my 18-pound birds are brown, sexy, and beautifully done 2 hours after I turn the oven down to 400 degrees! Cook to 160 degrees F. on your thermometer.

If you jiggle the ends of the legs, they will move freely and whatever juice comes out when you take out the thermometer will be clear. Remove your gorgeous bird to a deep platter or cutting board with grooves for the juice and allow it to rest for 30 minutes. If you like crispy skin, leave it uncovered!

Remove the string. Carve your masterpiece as desired, adding the juices to your gravy.

And after that, gravy!!! Wander back Wednesday, and I’ll tell you how 😉

ps… If you’re able, please consider doing something in your area to help folks who might need food just now.

pps… BLACK FRIDAY starts today on Etsy! Special tips to know:

  • 20% off anything in my special section marked “gift shop”, including awesome boxed sets of greeting cards and museum quality prints, like the glimpse of Follow Your Heart, seen above.
  • 20% off purchases over $75, including available original art!!! This could include a digital download of WE GATHER TOGETHER (source of all the fabulous recipes… including suggestions for Hanukkah and Christmas!) FierceArtWithHeart

It’s going to take a LOT of lemonade!

I feel like I’m being stalked by lemons.

First there’s the when life gives you lemons line. After much contemplation by all the adults, and considerable conversation about what the girls might be learning, we’ve decided to postpone our Thanksgiving togetherness plans for a safer time.

I wholeheartedly believe it’s the right decision. It just hurts like hell. Or, as the title implies, it’s going to take a big bunch of lemonade to make it feel better.

However, I did promise you my magic Turkey Timeline and I haven’t forgotten. Just one more lemonade story on the way…

You see, I’ve been busy learning new things. I was sitting in a Zoom meeting when Charlie Brown’s friend/nemesis, Lucy, popped into my head.

It took a minute to make the connection, until I remembered Lucy’s “lemonade” stand where, now and then, “the Doctor” was in. And (Don’t laugh!) I suddenly found a couple of mental puzzle pieces which felt like they’d been hiding under the couch for quite a while.

You’ll have to wait for the details. Let’s just say, for now, that there is lemonade to be made, even in this world, and I’ve got a recipe!

So, without further ado…

Sue’s Magic Turkey Timeline…

We’re going to work backwards… First pick the time you want to eat.

ie. 6:00 pm Thursday

Start Cooking @ 2:00 pm (Yes! It’s both possible and fabulous!)

Brine bird @ 8 – 10pm Wednesday (If your bird is still a bit icy, no worries. Brine on!)

Wednesday at dinner – if, like us, you want wild rice dressing, you could cook the wild rice while you’re fixing dinner on Wed. It keeps well in fridge.

Set bird to thaw (IN FRIDGE) Monday, about lunch time.

This magic formula assumes you’ll roast your turkey like we do. (You really, really want to!) Recipe to follow on Sunday. OR, you could get a digital download of We Gather Together, here, and you’ll know (almost) all my secrets!

ps… The photo is my Vivid Legend painting today. Otherwise known as Grammy Learning New Things!

pss… Some of that “lemonade” I mentioned could make a great gift for someone really special! You can email me at suesvoice@gmail.com and ask to be on the first-to-know list…

Fear, Objections, and Moving On…

About 5 years ago, I wrote a book. It was published in very late October with exactly this time of year in mind.

It’s a really cool book, with just enough typos to balance my perfectionist tendencies while encouraging me to do a new edition. This year may have convinced me.

The book is called WE GATHER TOGETHER… holiday feasts with the family you have! And then there’s a note below the title.

Notes on contemporary food culture, menu plans, and delicious recipes to help everyone feel welcome!

You guessed it. I wasn’t planning for a pandemic when I wrote it. But here I am, planning two Thanksgiving feasts. One for the turkey eaters. Bill and me. And one for the fish folks. Our kids. Who, in theory, are coming, though the numbers in Georgia aren’t looking optimistic.

The chapter which shares its name with the title of this post begins this way:

Change is hard. Thanksgiving has been celebrated as a federal holiday each year since 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln declared a national day of Thanksgiving and Praise on the last Thursday in November. Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s Day, Easter, and the Fourth of July, among many others, have traditions with roots deep in our psyches. And we, well most of us, feel more comfortable with that which is familiar.

Which means, that while my sister and brother-in-law are likely to get their Thanksgiving feast from Boston Market, it will certainly include turkey and mashed potatoes and what passes for gravy. Not, perhaps, a perfect plan, but familiar enough to be comforting.

Students of neuro-linguistic programming remind us that some of us “sort for” same and some for different. Boiled down, this means that most of us, when given a choice will pick things that feel familiar, while there are a few of us adventurers who will choose things that are new, or novel. Often these folks marry each other and create no end of holiday stress trying to work it all out!

-Boardman, 18.

It seems to me that even those of us who sort for same may need to experiment with different this year. But here’s the big thing. While the details may be different, we can still sort for same… which is love.

And, at our house, the eventual brining of a turkey. Back to We Gather Together:

Brining: This is optional but I highly recommend it. I’ve tried both wet and dry brines and I like dry the best. It’s easier, often cheaper, a lot less messy, and ultimately, more effective. And it has no sugar! The purpose is to season the bird, while holding juices in the muscle for a moist, tender turkey, with gorgeous, crispy, perfectly seasoned skin. Wash your hands a lot during the process! You’ll need:

Coarse grey Celtic sea salt

Freshly ground pepper (black or mixed colors)

Dried thyme (or other herbs as desired)

A pan large enough to hold the turkey loosely. (ie Eco-foil from your local supermarket. Nobody’s perfect!)

Mix together in a small bowl: 4 Tbsp. coarse sea salt with 2 Tbsp. ground pepper and 1 1/2 Tbsp crushed, dried thyme, etc., if desired. (You can also do this with just salt, in which case you may need an extra Tbsp. for coverage.) Don’t use regular table or fine grind salt! It leaves a bitter taste and you have to reduce the amount significantly so it’s hard to cover the whole bird without making it too salty.

For an 18-20 pound, thawed turkey, remove any neck and innards. Reserve them for other uses, as needed. I freeze the neck, heart, and gizzard for soup stock. (At least I did before our family included two raw-fed Newfies!) The liver is great for dirty rice and may be frozen, separately, or fed to dogs. Pat bird dry, inside and out, with paper towels and place bird in pan. If using foil pan, place that on top of a sheet tray for stability.

Working in the pan, season the inside and outside of the bird well. Get down around the wings and legs and thighs. Leave uncovered or cover loosely with foil or freezer paper. Place in fridge, preferably the old one in the basement, and just leave it alone for up to 3 days. I like 18-24 hours.

Boardman, 81,ff.

I love this dry brining magic so much that I keep a jar, all mixed and ready in the pantry. Roast chicken. Big, thick pork chops. Yummy lamb chops, especially when figs are in season where you live. It’s all better with dry brining. And local, sustainably raised meat! (Ask me about times for these smaller pieces of meat.)

Check back Wednesday for my magic turkey timeline!

And if, by chance, you’re planning different things this year, for whatever reason, here’s a wild idea. Send jigsaw puzzles to the various places your family is staying safe and set up a Zoom meeting to work on them together!

ps… Some of my art is suddenly available in jigsaw puzzles! Click here to be magically transported to the new tradition land of puzzles.

pps… We’ll also be making prayer dots for the millions of families struggling with the pandemic in this season.

Pieces of a legend…

I’m having a bit of re-entry shock. It was, in a metaphorical sense, a looooong way down the mountain from the legendary painting adventure known as Vivid.

And when I got back down the mountain, all the things I hadn’t gotten done before were waiting for me. (I can see you nodding!)

I won’t bore you with the details, except to say that there’s handy homeowner stuff on that list. And holiday prep stuff. And learning stuff. LOTS of learning stuff.

Oh, and Luther has grungy ears and decided blowing coat would be helpful which means a whole bunch of other stuff, besides.

Intriguingly, it’s my first Legend painting that’s whispering the comforting thoughts in my ear. Here she is:

Wow, has she taught me a lot!

You can use your imagination on what some of those teachings might be. There’s one, though, that I especially want to share tonight.

You see, her name is Follow Your Heart. I have followed my heart to this time and place. I suspect following it into the future will mean coming out from under the rock where I sometimes hide.

Being visible. Entering the world as a living symbol that love conquers all. Gathering my beloveds and inviting them into their own legendary futures.

It’s going to take a lot of us. Women who understand the need for loving legends in our families and our world.

We have the power to change lives. I’m saying yes. And I’ll have more to share soon about how you might join me. For today, Follow Your Heart is hanging out in my special Etsy holiday gift shop, in a couple of different forms, along with some of her best buddies, ready to follow you home and remind you, the way she reminds me.

It’s the red-winged blackbird in her hair!

ps… Luther says to remind you that he’s legendary, too!

My clown name was Hope!

I’ve been thinking a lot about hope this week. For the obvious reasons, of course. For some other reasons, as well.

As I mentioned on Wednesday, I’ve spent this week, virtually, in California at a retreat with some of the most amazing women I’ve ever known.

Together, we set out on Legendary journeys. Each day had its own question. In her enthusiasm, our fearless leader mentioned the last question – today’s question – on Thursday, I think.

What does your soul long to express?

I knew the answer immediately.

HOPE!

I’ve known this at some level for a while now. Probably since my girls came along. Hence my book, Grandmothers Are In Charge Of Hope.

And hope is a familiar notion for many pastors. At least those of the tribe I tend to hang with.

I’ve been carting an index card around for a couple of days now. There it is, in big letters… HOPE!

Just between us, this has been something of a challenging week on that front, in the afraid-to-hope kind of way.

I burst into sobs of relief when Bill found me getting ready to go back to California for the day and announced that Pennsylvania had been called for Joe Biden. And I, who have been news-avoidant for several years, have been glued to CNN, torn between wanting to take to the street with the dancing rejoicers and praying that they’re not sharing the Covid virus with their joy.

I used to be a nurse.

Eventually, I took a break from CNN and turned back to my Legendary self. That’s when I remembered. My clown name was Hope.

An explanation is clearly in order.

In the mid ’80’s, before I entered Columbia Theological Seminary to study for the ordained ministry, I did some work with a youth pastor in Florida who led a troupe of clown ministers.

Well, actually they were teenagers, willing to be, in a very real sense of the phrase, fools for Christ.

I remember helping with make-up lessons one weekend. Each clown learned to put a small red teardrop beneath the outer corner of their left eye as a symbol of the love of Yeshua.

And we each chose names. Back in those days when I was a mostly-broke single mom about to embark on a road I couldn’t imagine, I chose Hope. (Or, perhaps, Hope chose me.)

I remembered that today.

It feels, in many ways, like a good day for that.

It also feels like a good time to realize that many things are possible and not all of them would make good sense.

Which, at the risk of being redundant, may be why we hope in the first place.

And also in the last.

ps… Channeling my British ancestors, for just a moment, may God save Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. And all of us.

pps… The painting is clearly suffering through new visionary encounters requiring, well, editing but she graciously agreed to appear, teardrop and all.

Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity® Color of Woman Teacher